The Rainforest Family program has started at Outward Bound Australia’s Northern NSW operational area on a clear sunny day. For our 8 families, we will have a taste of the best of what we have to offer in our area – Clarrie Hall Dam, Mt Jerusalem Walls and the surrounding views, the historic Nightcap Trail, Minyon Falls and of course Mt Warning. The families got to meet each other for the first time while enjoying lunch near the spring of the Tweed River, followed by the symbolic ceremony of the raising of the Blue Peter Flag as a group. It was then time to head to Clarrie Hall Dam for their first canoeing expedition where everyone got to enjoy the serenity and also have fun swimming near the campsite right on the waterfront.
Day two has started with early morning excitement and relief with hot coffee on offer with breakfast! After breakfast and a super-fast camp pack down, the families headed down to Clarrie Hall Dam to continue their paddle towards a mysterious island where everyone got to explore and uncover many of the hidden treasures. Lots of games were played including a one called camouflage which everyone seem to be an expert in. The group spent their afternoon mountain bike riding. Although there were some hidden challenges within the bike ride and also the final hill to camp, everyone was happy to reach the top with spectacular views across to Mt Doughboy and Mt Warning. Both of these local significant land features are remanence of an old volcano. Tonight’s dinner was a Master Chef theme where each family group got to cook their own meals on trangia stoves, followed by a review of these meals around the Campfire. After a few games and riddles, everyone was excited to head to bed. It was great to see so many individuals stepping up and helping out with all tasks.
After a fantastic night sleep, everyone was up early and greeted to the most majestic sunrise viewing of Mt Warning surrounded by clouds and sunshine. The group packed up camp to prepare for a 13km hike through the Nightcap National Park. While walking through the rainforest they stopped at a lookout to soak in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mountain ranges to the other side. The group reached their next campsite where goannas and sometimes python snakes can be spotted. Now it was time to relax and put their feet in the creek, followed by dinner and some interesting games around the camp fire. Everyone is looking forward to see the 100m waterfall tomorrow.
Today involved a short walk alongside Boggy Creek to the top of Minyon Falls, an amazing opportunity to experience one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the region. Minyon Falls is a plunge waterfall on the Repentance Creek. The waterfall descends more than 100 metres over the huge rhyolite cliffs which were once part of the Tweed Volcano. After returning to base camp the Families had the very rare opportunity to spend time as a duo, a time away from the rest of the group and the distractions of day to day life. It proved to be a valuable time to reflect together on life.
The fifth day was a little different from the norm for the participants as they were awoken very early to go and climb a mountain. After a short bus transfer everyone clambered up to the summit of Wollumbin (Mt Warning) to watch the sun rise and be the first people in the country to feel the sun’s rays. Often the top of the Wollumbin is enshrouded in cloud but that was not the case today as there was blue sky as far as the eye could see. Everyone returned tired but happy for morning tea in the Longhouse before starting the next activity, “Pamper Pines”. This is a high ropes activity involving a platform 8m up a tree that the participants climb up to while attached to a safety line. Once on the platform a huge amount of confidence is needed as you are required to jump from the platform and try to grab a trapeze bar, the instructor then lowers you down to the ground. This activity always rattles a few nerves. A Celebration Lunch was also held where the families enjoyed a slideshow of pictures to review their journey. Right after lunch each family was able to plant a tree together to symbol a new beginning. After lowering the Blue Peter flag the group headed back to the bus to return to their homes and the rest of their families. All in all it was an incredibly successful journey on many levels.